The question of whether animals possess cultures or traditions continues to generate widespread theoretical and empirical interest. Studies of wild chimpanzees have featured prominently in this discussion, as the dominant approach used to identify culture in wild animals was first applied to them. This procedure, the method of exclusion, begins by documenting behavioural differences between groups and then infers the existence of culture by eliminating ecological explanations for their occurrence. The validity of this approach has been questioned because genetic differences between groups have not explicitly been ruled out as a factor contributing to between-group differences in behaviour. Here we investigate this issue directly by analysing genetic and behavioural data from nine groups of wild chimpanzees. We find that the overall levels of genetic and behavioural dissimilarity between groups are highly and statistically significantly correlated. Additional analyses show that only a very small number of behaviours vary between genetically similar groups, and that there is no obvious pattern as to which classes of behaviours (e.g. tool-use versus communicative) have a distribution that matches patterns of between-group genetic dissimilarity. These results indicate that genetic dissimilarity cannot be eliminated as playing a major role in generating group differences in chimpanzee behaviour.
In order to identify the causative agent of imported strongyloidiasis found in a Japanese mammalogist, who participated in a field survey in Tanzania, the hyper-variable region IV (HVR-IV) of 18S ribosomal DNA and partial mitochondrial cytochrome c-oxidase subunit 1 gene (cox1) were analyzed and compared with Strongyloides fuelleborni collected from apes and monkeys of Africa and Japan, and S. stercoralis from humans, apes and dogs. The HVR-IV and cox1 of the patients worms were identical to or only slightly differed from those of worms parasitic in Tanzanian chimpanzees and yellow baboons, demonstrating that the patient acquired the infection during her field survey in Tanzania. Phylogenetic analysis with the maximum-likelihood method largely divided isolates of S. fuelleborni into three groups, which corresponded to geographical localities but not to host species. Meanwhile, isolates of S. stercoralis were grouped by the phylogenetic analysis into dog-parasitic and primate-parasitic clades, and not to geographical regions. It is surmised that subspeciation has occurred in S. fuelleborni during the dispersal of primates in Africa and Asia, while worldwide dispersal of S. stercoralis seems to have occurred more recently by migration and the activities of modern humans.
We documented the presence of gastrointestinal nematodes and lung mites in two red-tailed monkeys, Cercopithecus ascanius schmidti, in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. We detected lung mites, Pneumonyssus duttoni, in the trachea and bronchioles, and five species of nematodes, Oesophagostomum pachycephalum, Ternidens deminutus, Streptopharagus pigmentatus, Primasubulura distans, and Trichuris sp. in their gastrointestinal tracts. This is the first report of a parasitological survey for the red-tailed monkey in Mahale Mountains National Park, and O. pachycephalum, T. deminutus, and P. distans were found for the first time in the red-tailed monkey.
A pirouette is a locomotor-rotational movement in which a young chimpanzee spins around in a (mostly) quadruped posture while advancing forward in a straight line. We addressed whether this behavior evolved as a practice of general athletic ability or of sexual selection. The former hypothesis would predict no sex differences in skill or the developmental process, while the latter would predict the opposite. Chimpanzees most likely master the pirouette around the time of weaning. We found no conspicuous sex differences in the developmental process or the number of rotations per bout of pirouettes, so the pirouettes main function may be to facilitate general athletic ability. Infants pirouetted regardless of the context of rest or travel, whereas juveniles and adolescents pirouetted primarily during travel. This is consistent with the survival strategy hypothesis, because juveniles and adolescents would be expected to display pirouettes to many watchers if this practice were sexually selected. However, the fact that males tend to pirouette faster than females and to pirouette even during adolescence suggests that sexual selection has some influence in shaping the evolution of the practice. Despite this, no conspicuous tendency was found for juveniles or adolescent chimpanzees to display pirouettes to opposite-sex individuals. More data on adolescent individuals are needed to definitively determine the role of sex differences in pirouetting behavior.
In 1998, four chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania, were observed wiping their mouths with non-detached leaves or stalks of grass, or rubbing their mouths with a tree trunk or branch, especially while eating lemons. The number of mouth-wiping/rubbing individuals increased to 18 in 1999. By 2005, 29 chimpanzees were documented wiping/rubbing their muzzles in this way. Although it is difficult to determine whether the chimpanzees acquired this behavior as a result of trial and error or social learning, the fact that chimpanzees at other sites perform this behavior with detached leaves or leafy twigs much more often than with intact items suggests the possibility that cleaning with intact plant parts at Mahale spread via social learning.
Each local population of chimpanzees shows cultural variation, but little is known about how behavioral variations first emerge, and how often variants spread to other individuals and then become fixed as a local culture in chimpanzee society. Although field studies of chimpanzees are still too short to answer these questions definitively, it may stimulate further study in various sites to summarize the developments observed over the past 40 years at Mahale, Tanzania. Innovative patterns were operationally defined as new behavioral patterns performed by M group chimpanzees from 1981 onwards. Innovations included patterns of feeding (n = 8), human-directed behavior (n = 3), hygiene behavior (n = 4), maternal carrying of infants (n = 2), courtship (n = 2), play (n = 6), intimidation displays (n = 3), and quasi-grooming (n = 4). Although most patterns were repeated later by other individuals, six patterns were never seen performed by another individual, and eight patterns were performed by one or a few individuals but social transmission was unlikely. Thus, innovation was not rare, but emergence of fashion or establishment of traditions seems to occur rarely in chimpanzee society.
Among cultural behaviors of chimpanzees, the developmental processes of complex skills involved in tool use are relatively well known. However, few studies have examined the ontogeny of social customs that do not require complex skills. Thus, in this study, we describe the developmental process of the grooming hand-clasp (GHC), one of the well-known social customs of chimpanzees at Mahale. We have collected 383 cases of GHC where at least one of the participants was 15 years old or younger during 1994-2007. First performances of GHC with the mother were observed at around 4-6 years old; the earliest observed age was 4 years and 4 months old. The first performances of GHC with nonrelated females were at around age 9 years, and those with adult males at around 11 years. However, some orphans engaged in GHC earlier than nonorphans. By gradually expanding GHC partners from the mother to other females and then to males, chimpanzees increased the number of GHC partners with age. Young males were observed to perform GHC with larger numbers of partners than were young females. GHC by young chimpanzees was shorter in duration than that among adults. Overall, the ontogeny of GHC showed several dissimilarities with that of tool use and was more an extension of the development of typical grooming behavior. For example, infants did not try to perform GHC initially; instead, mothers were more active in the earliest stages. These results suggest that not all socially learned cultural behaviors are acquired in the way of learning tool use. There may be various ways of learning behavioral patterns that are performed continuously in a group and that consequently comprise culture in chimpanzees.
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in wildlife are major threats both to human health and to biodiversity conservation. An estimated 71.8 % of zoonotic EID events are caused by pathogens in wildlife and the incidence of such diseases is increasing significantly in humans. In addition, human diseases are starting to infect wildlife, especially non-human primates. The chimpanzee is an endangered species that is threatened by human activity such as deforestation, poaching, and human disease transmission. Recently, several respiratory disease outbreaks that are suspected of having been transmitted by humans have been reported in wild chimpanzees. Therefore, we need to study zoonotic pathogens that can threaten captive chimpanzees in primate research institutes. Serological surveillance is one of several methods used to reveal infection history. We examined serum from 14 captive chimpanzees in Japanese primate research institutes for antibodies against 62 human pathogens and 1 chimpanzee-borne infectious disease. Antibodies tested positive against 29 pathogens at high or low prevalence in the chimpanzees. These results suggest that the proportions of human-borne infections may reflect the chimpanzees history, management system in the institute, or regional epidemics. Furthermore, captive chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human pathogens, and their induced antibodies reveal not only their history of infection, but also the possibility of protection against human pathogens.
Parasitological surveillance in primates has been performed using coprological observation and identification of specimens from chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania (Mahale). In this study, we conducted coprological surveillance to identify the fauna of parasite infection in five primate species in Mahale: red colobus (Procolobus badius tephrosceles), red-tailed monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius schmidti), vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops pygerythrus), yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus), and chimpanzees. Fecal samples were examined microscopically, and parasite identification was based on the morphology of cysts, eggs, larvae, and adult worms. Three nematodes (Oesophagostomum spp., Strongyloides sp., and Trichuris sp.), Entamoeba coli, and Entamoeba spp. were found in all five primate species. The following infections were identified: Bertiella studeri was found in chimpanzees and yellow baboons; Balantidium coli was found in yellow baboons; three nematodes (Streptopharagus, Primasubulura, an undetermined genus of Spirurina) and Dicrocoeliidae gen. sp. were found in red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and yellow baboons; Chitwoodspirura sp. was newly identified in red colobus and red-tailed monkeys; Probstmayria gombensis and Troglocorys cava were newly identified in chimpanzees, together with Troglodytella abrassarti; and Enterobius sp. was newly identified in red colobus. The parasitological data reported for red colobus, vervet monkeys, and yellow baboons in Mahale are the first reports for these species.
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